Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a mom. In 6th grade, I took a babysitting class at my hometown’s local fire station, babysat through middle school and high school, and then through college and all the way up until the time I was 8 months pregnant. I have always loved being around kids and the innocent bliss of not being the child’s actual parent.
Having spent so much time over the years watching kids and their parents, I always kept a list in the back of my mind of things I swore I would never do when I had children of my own. About a year and a half ago, my sweet baby boy was born, and my life changed in an instant. I was finally someone’s mom. As I think back on the list of things I said I’d never do, what has changed? In one word: everything. Here are some examples of the “Mom Rules” I have both made and broken:
1. “My baby will never use a binky.”
I was right on track with this plan for approximately the first 5 hours after he was born. Then the baby-cries started and I thought, “What do I do?” He wasn’t hungry, and he wasn’t wet, so WHY WAS HE SCREAMING? I quickly panicked (like I have many times since becoming a mom) and yelled to my husband to give me the binky. The one we’d learned in the breastfeeding class we should never use until he had a handle on feeding. I couldn’t resist. It made him happy, and he stopped crying. And a part of me also thought, what is cuter than a little tiny baby with a binky attached to a stuffed giraffe? It still makes him happy, so he still uses it in the car, during naps and at nighttime, and I’ve told myself it is okay. We’ll cross the bridge of getting rid of it when we’re all ready.
2. “My kid will never wear cartoon or character clothing.”
I always thought babies and kids looked cuter in “little grown-up clothes,” and planned on skipping all clothing with a giant Elmo face, Thomas the Train, or the Disney Princess of the month. What I didn’t realize was there is nothing more precious than a little toddler whose eyes light up when he sees his beloved Elmo on his shirt. And plus, those “little grown-up clothes” I envisioned my children wearing are expensive, uncomfortable, and too boring for a child’s sweet little imagination. Now I save those clothes for the holidays and family pictures, and let my little one run around in Paw Patrol sneakers.
3. “My kid will never eat chicken nuggets.”
When I told myself this, I didn’t have experience with a picky eater. My husband says our son only eats chicken nuggets because that’s all I feed him. I say that’s all I feed him because it’s all he will eat! Sure, he’ll eat fruit, yogurt, and crackers all day long. But if I want him to eat meat (which I do), right now, he’ll only eat chicken nuggets. If I make anything else I’m just delaying when I give him the nuggets and wasting perfectly good food. I just make sure I spend a little more to get the “real meat” kind, and that makes me feel better.
4. “I will never throw big, themed birthday parties.”
I always enjoyed going to my friends’ kids big theme parties, but in the back of my mind I always thought they were a little ridiculous and over the top. However, as soon as I looked on Pinterest and started planning my son’s first birthday party, I quickly became all in. And I’m not just talking a party with a theme – I took it up a notch with a theme-coordinated front lawn sign, specially named food to go with that theme, and a two tiered cake (as well as a smash cake.) I figured he only turned one once, and I’m sure I’ll tell myself that before his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th birthdays too.
5. “I will never clap for poop (or other gross bodily functions).”
I’ve seen my friends and other parents do it, and I’ve always thought “What in the WORLD!?” But you have no idea how much joy a diaper full of poop can bring you until you’ve seen your baby struggle for a day or two, grunting and cringing and crying, just needing to go. And along those same lines, when my son learned how to actually blow his nose so I didn’t have to fight him using the green squeegee booger ball anymore, I literally felt like he had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I was beyond a proud mom.
6. “I will never hog my baby.”
Of all the things I thought I’d never do, I had the best intentions with this one. Nothing is worse than wanting to hold a sweet child or play with them and all they want is their mommy. I did not want to hog my baby. But I had no idea before I became a mom how much I would love this little guy, or how badly I would want to hug him and kiss him and hold him every minute that I could. Especially as he gets bigger, I try to relish in each moment I have with him as a cuddly little baby who loves his mommy. So I admit, sometimes I hog him. I know I hog him from my husband, from other family members, from friends, and I (not so) secretly smile when all he wants is his mommy, because I know that it won’t last forever. Luckily they are all nice enough to not make me feel bad about it.
So let’s be honest, in my short time as a mom, I’ve quickly learned that life and your personal rules become a whole new ball game once you’re talking about your own child.
I thought all those years of babysitting would equal out to be a pretty significant warm up for being someone’s mom. And they definitely didn’t hurt! But everything I had always told myself about parenting was thrown out the window once my own time came. I realized pretty quickly that all I was really doing during that 5-8 hour stretch of babysitting was keeping kids entertained and alive until their parents came back. And while it was always nice at the time to be able to hand the kids back and head home to my peace and quiet, being a mom myself has been everything I had hoped for and more. My plan is to keep making (and breaking) my own rules as I go.
What pre-kid rules have you broken since having children of your own? Or are you holding strong better than I am?
Special thanks to our Guest Blogger, Natalie Ivory!
About Natalie: Natalie Ivory is a University of Iowa grad who grew in Traer, a small Iowa town. She spent time living in Des Moines and Dayton, OH before relocating back to Cedar Rapids where she’s lived and worked in marketing for 5 years. She’s been married to Greg since 2011, and their son Leo was born in the summer of 2014, 7 years to the day after they first met.